Generating awareness of environmental conservation issues among the public is essential if there is an expectation of them to alter their behaviour, facilitate informed decisions and engage governments or regulatory authorities to take action. There are, however, exceedingly few public engagement success stories related to inland fishes and fisheries policy and resource allocation decisions. Inland aquatic resources and their associated fisheries provide employment, recreation, culture and, in developing regions, a considerable proportion of human nutrition and food security. Freshwater fishes are incredibly diverse but are among the most endangered organisms globally. Many threats to inland fisheries are driven largely by externalities to inland fisheries. The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the role and plight of inland fishes and fisheries, and the need to generate the public and political will necessary to promote meaningful conservation. With this paper, the extent to which the scientific and environmental management communities have failed to engage the public in issues related to inland fishes and fisheries is characterized. Next, the barriers or factors that serve as the basis for the problem with public engagement are identified. The paper concludes by identifying strategies, including those focused on environmental education initiatives, for building the public and political will necessary to promote meaningful conservation of inland fishes and fisheries in developed and developing countries. Scientists, environmental managers, non-governmental organizations, politicians, regulatory authorities and the media all have important roles to play in overcoming challenges to inland fisheries. Failure to engage the public in freshwater conservation and management issues will impede efforts to stem the loss of freshwater habitats, fisheries and aquatic biodiversity. Thankfully, there are opportunities to learn from success stories related to other environmental issues and initiatives that have been successful in marine fish conservation.
|Number of pages||22|
|Journal||Journal of Fish Biology|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|